COMMENT: Ronwen Williams’ performances proof that goalkeepers deserve awards too

Ronwen Williams has been outstanding for Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana this season. Photo: BackpagePix

Ronwen Williams has been outstanding for Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana this season. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 8, 2024


Comment by Smiso Msomi

Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams is doing his best to reinstate the stardom of goalkeepers all over the country, following another stellar year.

The Gqeberha-born shot-stopper is raising the torch for goalkeepers across the land after being nominated in numerous categories in the coming Premier Soccer League awards.

The Mamelodi Sundowns goal-minder is in line for the biggest award after being nominated in the Footballer of the Season category, alongside teammate Teboho Mokoena and Stellenbosch FC’s Iqraam Rayners.

In 22 league matches this season, Williams conceded eight goals while keeping 15 clean sheets, a number that rises to 30 if you include those made in the CAF Champions League, African Football League, MTN8, Carling Knockout Cup and Nedbank Cup.

While the season may have not met the standards of a club of Sundowns’ ambitions, the retention of their Premiership crown, as well as winning the inaugural AFL, raises Williams’ stock.

The 31-year-old is a hot favourite to retain the Premiership Goalkeeper of the Season gong after winning it last season, with Stellenbosch’s Sage Stephens and Sekhukhune’s Badra Sangare also in the running.

Williams could also beat competition from Pirates’ Patrick Maswanganyi and Rayners in the Premiership Players Player of the Season category.

The SuperSport Academy graduate has been at the centre of contentious discussion surrounding the Footballer of the Season gong, which has been won by just two goalkeepers in the PSL era.

Fellow Bafana legends Andre Arendse (2001/2002) and Itumeleng Khune (2012/2013) claimed the coveted prize before, and Williams has arguably reached or even surpassed their displays in their prime.

Figures such as Matsatsantsa head coach Gavin Hunt have stated that no goalkeeper should be picked over in-field players for the award, but it’s very difficult to argue against Williams’ streak of performances this season.

The Sundowns goalie will know that he has lost one vote from the 16 Premiership coaches who decide where the award should head, but he’ll still hope to have convinced the other 15.

Williams’ international credits may not be included in discussions for domestic awards, but will go a long way in placing him among the best to have ever donned the gloves in the country’s history.

As Bafana captain, he led the nation to their first semi-final finish in 24 years, and was crowned best goalkeeper at the continental showpiece.

Following the four penalty saves he made to book Bafana’s place in the last four, he then concluded the tournament with more penalty shot-stopping heroics to help the nation claim a third-place finish.

While the debates continue, including whether his inclusion in certain award categories is merited, it is difficult not to argue that Williams has had an extraordinary campaign and continues to carry the torch for the most overlooked position in football.